Seated in the Heavenlies

The-throne-of-graceImage credit

Jeanne here.  Last June (2021) I had a strong leading from Holy Spirit to learn what it means to be seated with Christ in the heavenly places.  Over the course of the next 7 months, the topic was brought to my mind many, many times.  But I never sat down and studied it out.

God (in his mercy) did not wait until I got around to studying it.  After work last night, I was making supper (tater tot hotdish – shout-out to my Minnesota readers!) Pandora was playing a contemporary Christian song that I’ve heard dozens of times before.  Suddenly I was struck with powerful revelation… it’s hard to put the experience into words. I stood in my kitchen weeping, and when I had pulled myself together, I grabbed the nearest piece of paper – a grocery list – and wrote down what I suddenly knew:

We are seated on the mercy seat with Jesus.  We can extend his mercy, grace, and forgiveness to our fellow humans.  We can exercise his authority over the demonic.  We can calm the storm and move the mountain.  We can heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons.  IT IS FINISHED.

Yesterday morning I believed all these things were true because God’s word says so. But now I know they are true in every cell of my body.  There’s nothing left to wait for.  It’s time for us, if we call ourselves followers of Jesus, do what he told us to do.  He gave us everything we need.  We are seated in the heavenly realms with Christ Jesus. As the Father sent Jesus, now Jesus sends us.  We are sent to preach the kingdom of God and to take back all the ground that the enemy has stolen. 

We are simultaneously seated in the heavenly realm with Jesus and walking this earth in physical bodies.  We must do the work of Jesus, to carry out his will and enforce his decrees, because we – believers -- are the only body he has on earth now.  We must preach the gospel.  We must comfort the brokenhearted. We must declare freedom from darkness for those bound by the chains of deception. We must bind every lying spirit of suicide, depression, anxiety, lost identity, and fear.  We must loose the Spirit of love, mercy, and forgiveness.  We have been given the ministry of reconciliation, not just a cessation of hostility, but rather bringing people back into an intimate relationship with the God who created them and has loved them from the beginning of time.

There is much talk these days of the end times.  In Matthew chapters 24 and 25 Jesus talks about the signs of his return, and also what he expects of us in the meantime.  He repeatedly warns us to be ready.  If you knew Jesus was coming next week, what would you do?  If you knew Jesus was coming in a year, what would you do?  It seems many of us, including myself, have been concerned with all sorts of things that won’t matter a bit when Jesus returns.  I am haunted by Luke 18:8: Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?

The conflict between the kingdom of God and the powers of darkness is not some spectator sport.  There is no point in sitting on the sidelines, cheering for good and decrying evil. That’s not what Jesus meant when he told us to announce the kingdom, heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out demons.  We aren’t seated in the heavenlies with him so we can have a better view of the game!

There is a fire in me that wasn’t there yesterday, and I pray it lights you up too.  One of my former instructors says, “Don’t worry about what people will think if you don’t get it exactly right. If you’re on fire for Jesus, they’ll come watch you burn.”  I pray Holy Spirit fire falls on everyone who reads this.  I pray that wisdom, discernment, and above all the incomprehensible love of God fills your hearts and minds.

I’d love you to share in the comments what you would do differently if you knew Jesus was coming on a particular day in the near future, or what it means to you to be seated in the heavenly realms with him. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Thy Will Be Done

Greetings dear readers, this is Jeanne.  I want to apologize for not identifying myself in previous posts, and I have a confession.  When Lynn asked me to contribute to her blog, I was really nervous! I feel this is a sacred community and I don’t want to harm it in any way.  I want to be one of the conduits through which the Lord blesses you.  He does have good things for me to give you, if I can keep my flesh out of the way!  With that said, on to today’s post.

Man kneeling

A few months ago I heard the song “Thy Will” by Hillary Scott.  It’s a beautiful, haunting, heartbreaking song.  I don’t have permission to quote it here, but if you get a chance to listen to it, please do.  She wrote it after losing a baby to miscarriage.  The most heartbreaking part for me is that she seems to believe that God caused or at least allowed her baby to die, for reasons she might never know.

We all have tragedies in our lives that leave us asking “Why?”  You probably know people who have turned away from God because of a painful event or a prayer he didn’t answer.  If you are like me, you have also gone through times when you weren’t sure you wanted to serve a God who lets bad things happen to good people.  Or perhaps you have believed that he has some unknowable reason, and the painful experiences are part of his plan for you or for them.

Please know that I am not condemning this thought process; trust me, I’ve been there.  It is one of the most insidious lies of the enemy that God controls what happens on this earth.  You may have heard it taught in your church, but it’s still a lie.  God gave dominion – power, authority, jurisdiction -  over a perfect earth, in which there was no death, to human beings made his own image. When they chose to obey the devil instead of God, they handed that authority over to the enemy.  

               The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to mankind.  Ps 115:16

Don’t you know that you become a slave to whomever you choose to obey? You can obey sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteousness.  Romans 6:16

Jesus came as a man because that was the only way he could get the earth back from the enemy.  He came to destroy the works of the enemy. To get mankind out from under the yoke of sin, Jesus had to lead a perfect life, never once obeying the enemy instead of God.  What an incredible task!  He did exactly what the Father sent Him to do, and in the end sin and death had no power over him. 

Jesus gave that power and authority over the enemy to his disciples (that would be us.)  He gave the church (us again) power to bind and to loose, and he said the gates of hell will not prevail against us.  What happens on earth is our will, not God’s.  He allows what we allow; he won’t interfere with our free will.  God’s will is that every one of us would choose life, love each other, and spend eternity with him.  But the choice is ours.  Each of us has free will and the choice of how to live and whom to serve, every moment of every day.

Back to the tragedies that fill our lives.  If it wasn’t God’s will that the Scotts lost their baby, why did it happen?  God breathed life into that baby at the moment of conception.  He had a plan for that child’s life.  It was cut short by the thief who comes to kill, steal, and destroy.  The devil and the effects of sin are all around us.  People blame God for what man does or does not do, which is exactly what the devil wants.  The good news is, we have the power and the authority to rebuke the devil, to walk in the power Jesus gave us, and to bring the Kingdom of God to earth.  The bad news is, it won’t happen if we don’t do it.

Today, let me encourage you to search the Scriptures and ask Holy Spirit to show you the authority you have and where he wants you to exercise it.  Our prayers are powerful; our words are powerful; our actions are powerful.  Don’t let the enemy deceive you into believing what you do or say or pray doesn’t matter.  Leave a message in the comments about what He shows you.  Remember, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” (Phil. 4:13)


Overcoming Unbelief

Jesus Wilderness 2When I was in high school, my mother signed me up to teach a Christian education class to first graders.  The church provided a curriculum, a classroom, and a roster of students.  The first day of class I took attendance and began to teach the first lesson.  Almost immediately, one of the boys went to the back of the classroom and started playing with the art supplies.  I told him to go sit down, but he did not.  I ignored him and kept teaching.  Soon another child got up and went to the back of the room.  By the third session of this class, all I was doing was taking attendance and keeping the kids in the room. I stopped even attempting to teach. 

The gospels tell a story about a man who brings his demon-possessed son to Jesus’ disciples.  To summarize, Jesus is on the mountain with Peter, James, and John, and when they come down there is a crowd waiting.  A man tells Jesus about the torment of his son, and says that his disciples were not able to heal him.  Jesus expresses frustration with this “faithless and unbelieving generation” and then heals the boy. Later,

… the disciples came to Jesus privately and asked, “Why could we not cast it out?” So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.  However, this kind does not go out but by prayer and fasting.” Matthew 17:19-21, NKJV

Different translations of this passage say “This kind of demon only goes out by prayer and fasting” but in the original language, “this kind” refers to the unbelief, not the demon.  Jesus is clearly telling them that the issue is their faith, or rather the lack of it. 

When the demon saw Jesus, it threw the boy into convulsions and he fell to the ground, rolling around and foaming at the mouth.  I’m sure this was frightening for the disciples to witness, and though they knew Jesus had given them authority over the powers of darkness, they reacted with doubt.  The same thing happened to me as a teenager. I had the authority to place my hand on the wayward child’s shoulder and direct him back to his seat.  I lost control of the class simply because I did not exercise my rightful authority. In the same way, the disciples felt powerless even though they had the authority of Jesus himself.

These same disciples had successfully cast out demons and healed the sick in the past.  But in this circumstance, they had allowed what they saw to override what they knew to be true: that Jesus himself had given them the power to cast out demons.  It can be quite difficult to stand solidly on a spiritual truth when our flesh is screaming something contradictory. 

When Jesus stated that unbelief only comes out by prayer and fasting, he was referring to this tension between the facts (what we can see in the physical realm) and the Truth as defined and described by God. Jesus was always watching and listening to the Father.  He saw the same demonic seizure as his disciples, but instead of being intimidated, he focused on his Father’s will to heal and Holy Spirit’s power to invade the natural realm.  Jesus prepared for his ministry with 40 days fasting in the wilderness, and countless more late nights and pre-dawn mornings spent in prayer. Jesus got hungry and tired as we all do, but accomplishing the Father’s will was truly his life’s purpose.

To be honest, my flesh doesn’t always want to set aside my own agenda and spend time in prayer, and it surely doesn’t want to skip many meals. But look at the promise!  If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could move mountains… nothing would be impossible for you.

Jesus knows we can’t do this on our own. He is patient as we learn to follow his example, little by little.  If we increasingly trust him one minute, one hour, one day at a time, he will teach us to do what he did, and even greater things. 

Note: This story is related in Matthew 17:14-21, Mark 9:14-29, and Luke 9:37-43.